The Senate has issued clarification on the Act to Prohibit Frivolous Petitions and other Related Matters bill, which has generated reactions on the social media.
The bill being made reference to, is An Act to prohibit frivolous petitions and other related matters, which absolutely makes no mention of jailing social media users.
Senator Na’Allah’s bill seeks to make illegal, the common act of individuals sponsoring frivolous petitions to tarnish/blackmail public servants or political office holders for selfish purposes. The bill also seeks to make it a requirement for petitioners to depose to an affidavit in court which must be attached to any petition. Where such petition is discovered to be frivolous, or mischievous or the fact there in are false, the proposed bill makes it a case of perjury which is an offense under the law.
The Deputy Senate leader in his submission expressed concern that with such frivolous petitions, the right of an individual to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court, would have eroded such presumption of innocence as these petitions lead to media trials that hampers the rule of law.
In the developed societies and in particular, the US, if one files a petition with the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other government agency, aimed at defaming someone, ruining their reputation or family and such petition is discovered to be false, such a person will be held liable and would pay dearly for it.
One can only imagine that if countries allowed dishonest elements to file petitions against their opponents without having to hold them accountable, this will amount to impunity.
Please find attached the lead debate to the said petition.